DOD staff working on new 'mil-to-mil' communication with China

By Tony Bertuca / December 5, 2023 at 5:25 PM

The Defense Department and the Chinese military are currently working at the staff-level to re-establish communication among the nations' top defense officials following a meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco last month, according to a senior Pentagon policy official.

Ely Ratner, assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast today that senior U.S. and Chinese military leaders have not yet spoken, but stressed that “active discussions” are going on at the “working level” right now regarding the “sequencing” for planned meetings and engagements over the next 12 months.

“We are currently in the process of discussing with the PRC Defense Department about what that is going to look like in the months and years ahead,” he said.

Ratner would not give a specific timeline but said it should take “months” at “the very latest.”

Despite this, Ratner said, DOD does not believe China has changed its aggressive posture in the Indo-Pacific, especially regarding Taiwan.

“Leaders in Beijing have been crystal clear about their ambitions toward Taiwan,” he said. “They have already been engaged in an intensive pressure campaign . . . against Taiwan. They have yet to renounce the use of force. . . . I see my job as, in part, ensuring that the United States is prepared.”